05-05-2012 05:24 AM
If you want to create a look that you can live with for a long time I'd start with the skin. It's a big ticket item that has a huge effect on how you look and few people starting out have the resources and ability to make or edit one on their own. If it comes with an modifyable shape you like so much the better, but shapes can be created and edited by anyone so I wouldn't invest a lot in one.
If it's a budgeting thing then look for an AO because it's hard to find good cheap male AO's.
Next would be hair. Personally I try to look consistent - if you do too, find a hair maker that you like and gradually acquire different styles in the same color.
Clothes are clothes - you can accumulate them gradually and put together multiple outfits, and it's entirely possible to rely on a free or very inexpensive wardrobe for a while..
05-05-2012 06:15 AM
People will all tell you to make your own shape - They never tell you to make your own clothes, hair, or shoes, even though the tools for those are also in Second Life.
I would start by finding a good shape. But then I'm biased. I think the shape is the basis for your three dimensional appearance. A really really good skin can hide a lot of things in a bad shape but not everything. And most newcomers cannot find or afford a top quality skin right off the bat. (Al Vulo is one good resource for free skin, new one each month if you join that group. But they never do male skins as freebies.) Things like too short arms, strange proportions and other things are not fixed simply by a good skin - mainly the face is and only from the front.
Not everyone can make a shape that looks good or holds up from all angles, either. Of course, tastes vary, and you will need to adjust any shape somewhat depending on what brand of skins you choose - Skin makers begin with a template or a photo source, and the measurements within those faces will not work with all shapes. Or will need to be adjusted in the shape's face to fit it somewhat. So, try to get a shape that has a MODIFY capability - it will make that part much easier.
There are various resources for free shapes. The library avatar shapes are now pretty good, most of them. There is also Miss Murder (I always get that name wrong, someone correct me) and I offer some for free personal use also. There are even some decent full perm shapes at some freebie malls.
If you do create a shape, then begin with Create/New Shape, and do yours from scratch so that it really is all yours. Creative decisions such as head shape, face shape, and many other things do require some ability and work, and it isn't fair to steal someone else's...even if it seems like it's all the same to begin with. It isn't.
Anyway! Once you have a good shape, go get some good skins. Try on the demos unless the skin itself is (legally) free. Go to skin shops and see if they have free one if you join their group. For only 250L (one dollar) you can join Belleza group and get a bunch of top quality skins, male or female. He also sends some new ones out a few times a year. I'm assuming "charliecav" means your avatar is male. But Belleza offers male and female human skins both. Of course I'm also assuming you want your av to be human? In here people can also be quadroped, furry, fantasy creatures like dragon or griffin, even vehicles.
I'd get the hair next. By then your av should be taking shape, no pun intended. Sometimes I begin from a mental image and sometimes from just letting what's available for free, help guide what the av will be like. There are so many possibilities. Hopefully you will end up with a unique result, not cookie-cutter. I would get the clothes and shoes after that, and an AO last.
Some good resources for male freebies are Santo (join his group) for clothes, Fab Free shop space in world, K MADD for eyes, Tuty's or Vista for AO, maybe hoorenbeek for shoes (you have to join their group, and it sends a LOT of note cards, but they have good freebies, sometimes including boots or leather jackets.)
05-05-2012 07:01 AM
"Fixing" avies is a passion of mine, and truly, the skin makes or breaks the avie's appearce. You can have a less-than-perfect shape and make it look fab with the right skin.
Not to discount the importance of shapes. (That's where you do the "fine tuning".)
And remember, when looking for skin:
1. If you're trying on the demo in the store, wear as little clothes as possible so you can see the entire skin. (Be respectful of the stores maturity rating!)
If you collect a few demos and go home to try them on, get naked. You'd be surprised at how many skins have great faces and the body (shading, nipples, etc.) are horrible.
2. Pay attention to the way the skin has been painted: the brows, the colour/lines of the lips, the shading of the cheeks, makeup options for F and facial hair for M... And remember, unless you have the exact shape of the model in the pictures on the walls in the store, your skin will look different on you than the advert. (I have the same skin as one of my mates on SL and we completely different b/c of our shapes.)
3. Lastly, buy only MODABLE shapes. Most are, but be mindful of the editing rights when you buy. And a quick tip for adjusting the avie? Get in edit mode, and if you don't know what the feature is, drag it to the extreme left and right. It will show you how lowering/raising the number will effect you avie. Best to start at "50" on most everything (a few exceptions, but they'll be easy to spot). Then adjust up/down to suit your preference.
That's it, really. Just remember: get a great skin and a modable shape. The rest will fall into place. =)
Best of luck!!
05-05-2012 07:11 AM
Yes, you can have a less than perfect shape and the face of a really really good skin will make it look much better - from the front. (Ever notice how many skin or shape shops ONLY show an av from the front?) But, a skin can do nothing for bad proportions in the face or body, or a bad profile of the face. Because the shape gives three dimensions. Those are important too.
Why not start out with a good shape as well as a good skin, as well as the best of every other category, that you can find.
05-05-2012 07:44 AM
What are the main things I need to do to make my Avatar look good? Skin? AO? Clothes? What should I do first?
That's a fairly broad question and the answers depend on how you define a "good" avatar.
Personally, I would say you need to start with a good shape. The starter avatars, and even the default shapes provided when you create a new shape, are all pretty terrible. Tiny heads, wierd gimpy/short arms, absurdly long legs.
LL also tends to start avatars off at about 7'/2.13m tall.Personally, I think a good avatar makes good use of scale, a human should be human sized so a wookie/dragon/minotaur can tower over them as intended. (And so they didn't need to pay more for land.) But since the majority of SL avatars are giants, you might understandably put a stronger preference on fitting in and that's quite alright.
Regardless of your feelings about scale, you want to have proper proportions to look good. Most people will generally feel a well proportioned avatar is more atttractive The problem is, it's difficult to find well made shapes for sale in SL. Even the popular shops tend to be bad about proportions.
Here's a guide on shape making that might help. It's just a quick run-through on getting proper proportions. Right at the beginning is a link to a longer version which goes more into detail explaining proportion and body types.
A good shape needs a good skin, luckily there are more good skins in SL than shapes so they're easier to find. The problem is, they tend to be expensive. Still, you can find some great deals on slightly older skins that still look great.
Of course, how you define a good skin, again, depends on what you're going for. If you want a muscle man avatar you'll need to have an appropriate shape and a muscular skin to compliment it. (You cannot max out muscle sliders on a shape to make your avatar look muscular, you need a muscular skin. Maxing out the muscle sliders for the shape just makes you look like a blob.)
Since your username is "charlie" I'm assuming you're going for a guy avatar. I'd recommend opening up your SL search window and looking for *KANTO* or <TheAbyss> for some good athletic/average skins or .: SKING :. for a nice muscle man shape. (I would not recommend their shapes, tho.The SKING and Abyss shapes are particularly wonky in their proportions.)
Clothes depend highly on the sort of look you're going for. Casual? Space marine? A Cimmerian warrior? A steampunk adventurer? It's impossible to make a recommendation without knowing what you're aiming for.
As for an AO, I'd recommend peaking searching for the shops Oracul, Body Language, and Animazoo. Oh! Go to the RP sim Doomed Ship and look for their free starter avatar, it includes a free AO to play with. It's not the best AO out there, but it uses the free ZHAO-II scripted AO that lots of people use, so it can help you to get familiar with how it works.
In short, I'd say try to decide on a theme for your appearance (ie: casual athletic guy, super hero, victorian gentleman, cowboy, etcetera) and then ask for recommendations around that theme.
05-05-2012 08:48 AM
Coby Foden wrote:
1. Good well proportioned shape
2. Good skin
3. Nice hair
4. Nice clothes
5. Nice AO
In that order.
Yep, pretty much. I think I've seen an AO like the one in your pic before. I have a few AOs which I think are able to be transferred to people
05-05-2012 11:29 AM
I think of my shape as me. It is what determines my features. I have had the same one for over five years. I have tweaked it a little, but never made changes large enough that people who knew me would not recognize me. The changes I've made were decreasing the bust size after I realized that, like many in SL, it really was overdone. The other was decreasing the height for the same reason. Even though I made these changes, if you had known me well enough to remember clearly five years ago, and you saw me today, you would recognize me. That's how I want it to be. So, for me, getting the right shape at the beginning is the most important part of having the "right" avatar. I think it is essential to get a modifiable shape so that you can tweak it if you decide you need to. I would never try to make my own shape; I have neither the talent nor the patience to make one that is good enough.
OTOH, assuming your shape is not grotesque, your skin probably has more to do with how good you look. However, it does not determine what your features are like your shape does, and you can replace your skin and still look like the same person, so it is not as important to get the best skin at first. I have had three skins in SL, including the freebie I wore during my first two weeks, and I'm going to have my fourth when I find just the right one, but I will look like the same person.
Another thing to consider is that skinmakers are making better-looking skins as time passes, and I imagine that will continue, so that if one wants to keep looking good, one may need to get a new skin every few years. During my time in SL, shapes have not improved, and I don't see how they could have. The only way I see that they could would be for LL to make a major technical change, which I don't think is likely. Perhaps I should, given LL's propensity to fix things that are not broken while leaving broken things alone.
So, I would get a shape that I would want to keep forever first.